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The high cost of paying for your payments - Solved?

Dispute Resolution partner, Robert McDiarmid, is featured in February's edition of the Business Bulletin - published by Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce. 

How should you interpret a commercial contract?

It may not be a glamorous topic but it can be an important one.

Businesses enter into contracts every day; with suppliers, customers, landlords, sub-contractors and more. Some of those contracts, and how the wording in them is understood, can have significant ramifications for a business. A recent example of this can be found in a decision just issued by the Inner House of the Court of Session in a case:  Ashtead Plant Hire Company Ltd v Granton Central Developments Ltd.

Fact v Fiction

As we enter the 2020s, there are still several myths surrounding Powers of Attorney and their operation.  No one intends to lose capacity, and no one intends to leave their affairs in the hands of another, but it is important to try to think one step ahead, and set out your wishes while you still can. 

The Equality Act provides protection against “harassment” which is defined as “unwanted conduct” which is either “related to a relevant protected characteristic” (such as gender) or which is  “of a sexual nature” and which has the purpose or effect of violating dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment”. 

I want to break free – good news for employers on enforceability of restrictive covenants

There is an inherent conflict between an employer’s desire to prevent key personnel from competing with them after their employment terminates, and an employee’s right to carry out their trade and earn a living once they have left a job. As early as the 1700s, courts were deciding to what extent clauses in contracts of employment could and should be permitted to restrict employees’ actions post termination of their employment.

In Okedina v Chikale, the Court of Appeal recently considered the question of whether a contract of employment could be said to be illegal due to the operation of immigration law. The decision is of particular significance where employers may seek to rely on the defence of illegality when facing claims by illegal migrant workers.

On 11 July the Government Equalities office issued a consultation document [https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/consultation-on-sexual-harassment-in-the-workplace] setting out proposals and options for the reform of the law relating to sexual harassment in the workplace.  The background is, of course, wide spread concern and press interest in sexual harassment issues involving certain specific high profile cases and the wider #MeToo movement. It also follows a report by the Women and Equality Select Committee (WESC) which called on government and employers to assume a more active role in tackling the issue.

It is now common, in scenarios where employers and employees come into conflict about the impact of some incapacity which the employee may have, for the employee to claim that they suffer from a condition which qualifies as a disability under the Equality Act 2010 (the Act), and that their employer has taken or failed to take some action which results in disadvantage to them because of this disability. Employers may, however, counter with potential arguments about whether the individual was in fact disabled in law on the basis that unless the employee meets the legal definition of “disability” they can have no valid claim.

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